House of Marley Exodus Stereo Headphone review by Dale

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube video review: House of Marley Exodus Stereo Headphone review by Dale - YouTube

    Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using the Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

    Note: This headphone was supplied by the manufacturer. Since I'm not a professional reviewer and don't accept contributions, my rule is this: If it doesn't sound like something I would purchase myself and keep, it goes back without review. To date I've received only two such items, the German Maestro 8.35D and this one. Now there's an interesting dilemma - how to tell people who read this that the sound is way better than the price suggests, when I got it more or less by accident on the recommendation of a friend in the audio business. As I was unpacking the Exodus, my thoughts were about taking it to the shipper the next day to return it after my brief listen. But, it took only about 15 seconds to dispel that notion.

    To my ears, the Exodus needs few words other than 'very good' or 'excellent' to describe the sound. One caveat: The highs are slightly softer than the Sennheiser Momentum, which in turn are slightly softer than the headphone with the flattest treble I know of - the Shure 1840. A few of the headphones I've purchased are treble-shy in the sense that they require a significant treble boost to be acceptable for high fidelity playback. The Exodus is not one of those. This headphone doesn't have as much lower midrange/upper bass emphasis as the Momentum, yet it has the right warmth for enjoyable music listening. That alone is good news, but the icing on the cake is, the overall bass is very good, very smooth, and being that my last few months' listening has been with fairly bassy headphones, having an immediate good impression of the Exodus is solid confirmation that the bass was done right.

    I've read countless articles and forum commentary where people talk about burn-in, and either getting the headphone broken in or the brain adjusted to the sound signature, or both. In my case (and this may not apply to you), the 15 seconds I noted above were all I needed to know that I wouldn't have to spend a lot of time breaking this one in. Did the manufacturer do a burn-in in the QA lab, or could this be a refurbished item that's been played before I got it? There's no way for me to know, and I'm not that curious anyway. But I would suggest to anyone who orders a new Exodus that they allow a few hours of playtime before making any final evaluation of the sound. My first comparison with the Exodus was to the Phiaton MS400, which I consider to be a decent ~$220 headphone, and the Exodus won that handily, with a much more open, spacious, and lively sound. Although I didn't try to evaluate the soundstage critically, the openness of the Exodus' sound impresses me as unusually good for a closed design.

    The midrange, where voices and most instruments live, is the most critical part of the spectrum for music listening. Lots of headphones have bass or treble signatures that stand out in a not good way for various reasons, whether veiled, flabby, peaky, boomy, or a hundred other colorful attributes. But the midrange can't bear that amount of variance - the mids can be a little forward or shy, but very significant deviations from neutral will render the headphone suitable for one or two genres only, and that's not good when you're on walkabout with just one headphone and get a hankering to switch from Merle Haggard to Biggie Smalls. The Exodus' midrange is just right, and listening with the Audioengine D1 and numerous hirez tracks confirms that. The Exodus is a perfect example of how a headphone can have good fidelity and musicality, which you don't always get even with some of the pricier headphones.

    Important note: When listening to music while doing other things, such as watching videos, cruising the Internet, gaming etc., the sound doesn't have as much impact as when concentrating on the music and not distracted. The Marley Exodus is my idea of great sound for listening only, but if you listen while doing other things, you may want one of those "enhanced" headphones with boosted bass, treble etc. Reviews of those types use colorful terms such as "punchy", "snappy", or having "bass slam", in excess of what's required for music listening. The headphone I have that's closest in sound to the Exodus is the $350 USD Sennheiser Momentum. Not saying that you get a $350 item for $150, since the Exodus has a distinct hand-made aesthetic to it, whereas the Momentum is very clearly machine-made, albeit with nice leather finishing touches. Then again, the Grado PS500 I purchased for $600 was also hand-made to a large extent, so there you are.

    The Exodus was apparently designed physically to reflect an environmental and spiritual ethic that the great musician himself would approve of, and so it looks quite different in a lot of ways from the usual commercial headphone. I'll skip most of the finishing touches like the small leather patches and metal buttons on the headband (uber-cool BTW) and describe just the functional items. The headband does not have adjustments for size (with or without click stops) like most headphones - you just pull the earcups down much like you would with the Philips Stretch design, and place the earcups onto your ears. The fit is snug with a fairly strong clamp, and there is no tendency for it to shift around unless you make large rapid head movements. This design may not fit every person's head perfectly, but my head and ears are so average that I haven't had a fit issue with any of the headphones I've had.

    The Exodus' earcups don't rotate flat, but there's an approximately 12 to 15 degree rotation provided to fit ears that are slanted forward or back, as mine are slightly. The cable is a woven fabric, thin but strong-looking, is double-entry, and terminated with a right-angle 3.5mm miniplug. The Apple controls work fine, and there's a mic on the back of the small control box. The cable, as far as I can tell, is not detachable. Isolation seems average to better-than-average for on-ear types. Leakage is very low for this type, so even at medium-loud volumes the Exodus should be usable in cubicles in quiet offices. The really beautiful brown carrycase expands accordion-style, so the headphone can be dropped right in without any hassle. There's enough space left over to stash extra items, but care should be taken to avoid penetrating or impacting the drivers.

    In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the Exodus compares with each individual track.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Music samples for Marley Exodus review

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled exceptionally well by the Exodus.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry.

    Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled very well here.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the Exodus.

    Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the Exodus.

    Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds very good on the Exodus.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Exodus renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The Exodus plays this perfectly.

    J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The Exodus plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking even a little in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the Exodus delivers the full experience of this music.

    Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the Exodus.

    Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. The Exodus plays those notes with good impact and control. Having played this track a number of times now, I'm highly impressed with the Exodus' bass reproduction and detail throughout the track.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The Exodus provides reasonably good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the Exodus plays them OK, if a little soft.

    Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds great with the Exodus.

    Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the Exodus plays it well.

    Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

    Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

    Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but not with the Exodus.
     
  3. quadpatch

    quadpatch New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    London, UK
    Ignoring the DOS spam... Thanks for your review of the HOM Exodus, I'm surprised that you found a good one of these. I have tried a couple (not the Exodus) and really didn't like them so I'm not surprised that you were poised to send them back. I just looked these up and they don't look very comfy, or well designed - shame! Some of their other models look ok.
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    This site is getting hit hard, and being mostly nonsense stuff, someone should be found and prosecuted. Like in the movie Deal Of The Century, where the weapons mfr. says "The enemy isn't Moscow, it's Rockwell, Boeing, Northrop, Grumman ...." -- in that context I think the origin of the "spam" is more likely a competitor. Sounds silly, eh?

    Anyway, the Marley headphone is certainly unique. I never would have looked it up myself, since my ethos isn't 60's, hippie, save the whales etc. - it's the back alleys of an industrial city and whatever goes with that. Another reviewer pointed me to them, why I don't know. But here's what I discovered: The Exodus headphones they make are probably consistent in sound, given the quality of sound I heard and the machining of the earcups holding the drivers. The clamp is very strong and comfort might be bad for some, but, having used Beyer DT48's with the old-style earpads, and the Senn HD280 Pro, the Exodus is no worse than those right out of the box, and, given a long break-in if the user has the patience, the Exodus with the leather earpads may become more comfortable. The sound on average is better than a M50 I think being less colored, lacking only the M50's deep bass kick. So I hope there were hints at least in the review about the need to break in the leather parts, if that even makes sense to people. Far be it from me to guess about the logic of things like that.

    Edit: The video review discusses the physical break-in at length. Note that I purchased the Marley Chant speaker which I really love, and for that alone I have a lot of curiosity about where these guys are going with their products.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  5. bleedin'ears

    bleedin'ears New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    UK
    I actually listened to these in a HMV store just before xmas and omg how fantastic these sounded. the sales assistant plugged them into an ipod and put some dance music on, not my cup of tea but it didn't matter, the words 'open' and 'detailed' come to mind, also tried the HoM 'jamming: positive vibration ' but they didn't appeal to me at all. Just my two cents worth ..... nice review btw!
     
  6. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Thanks - I didn't realize this before I tried them the first time, but the materials they use, being real leather and all, take time to break in. They can feel a bit stiff at first use.
     
Loading...

Share This Page